Background: In publicly funded health care systems, a waiting period for such services as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is common. The possibility of using the waiting period to improve patient outcomes should be investigated.
Objective: To examine the effect of a multidimensional preoperative intervention on presurgery and postsurgery outcomes in low-risk patients awaiting elective CABG.
Design: Randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: A regional cardiovascular surgery center in a tertiary care hospital, southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Patients: 249 patients on a waiting list for elective CABG whose surgeries were scheduled for a minimum of 10 weeks from the time of study recruitment.
Intervention: During the waiting period, the treatment group received exercise training twice per week, education and reinforcement, and monthly nurse-initiated telephone calls. After surgery, participation in a cardiac rehabilitation program was offered to all patients.
Measurements: Postoperative length of stay was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes were exercise performance, general health-related quality of life, social support, anxiety, and utilization of health care services.
Results: Length of stay differed significantly between groups. Patients who received the preoperative intervention spent 1 less day [95% CI, 0.0 to 1.0 day] in the hospital overall (P = 0.002) and less time in the intensive care unit (median, 2.1 hours [CI, −1.2 to 16 hours]; P = 0.001). During the waiting period, patients in the intervention group had a better quality of life than controls. Improved quality of life continued up to 6 months after surgery. Mortality rates did not differ.
Conclusion: The waiting period for elective procedures, such as CABG, may be used to enhance in-hospital and early-phase recovery, improving patients' functional abilities and quality of life while reducing their hospital stay.